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COD President named finalist in search for new president at Mt. San Antonio College

College of the Desert President/Superintendent Dr. Martha Garcia could be leaving her position soon. On Tuesday, she was named one of five finalists to be the new president of Mt. San Antonio College.

The five final candidates were chosen from a group of 12 semifinalists who were interviewed Feb. 23, Feb. 24, and Feb. 27.

  • Dr. Erika Endrijonas, Superintendent/President, Pasadena City College
  • Dr. Nicole Esposito, Chief Executive Officer, Manchester Community College, Manchester, Conn.
  • Dr. Martha Garcia, Superintendent/President, College of the Desert
  • Dr. Kimberlee Messina, President, Spokane Falls Community College, Washington
  • Dr. Katrina VanderWoude, Vice Chancellor, Los Angeles Community College District

College of the Desert's Board of Trustees was informed that Garcia is a finalist for the position. Garcia provided a statement on the announcement:

“I am committed to serving the College of the Desert team, our students and the community. I am privileged to work alongside an amazing team and serve the students we do, collectively. I am devoted to doing what is best for the students of COD as long as I am serving as the Superintendent/President.”

- COD President/Supervisor Dr. Martha Garcia

There were no details on whether COD is preparing a plan in case Garcia does accept the new position.

Mt. SAC received 37 applications from throughout the country, school officials said. The five finalists, including Garcia, are expected to speak at a public forum on March 6. The forum will be streamed live on the school's Youtube page.

During the event, each candidate will have 45 minutes to share their views and philosophies on current issues and challenges, as well as their vision for the college's future direction. The finalists will provide a three-minute opening statement, followed by eight to 10 pre-selected questions. Each will give a three-minute closing statement.

The Mt. SAC Board of Trustees is scheduled to interview finalists on March 20 through March 22, and announce the appointment of the next president in April.

The school's current president is set to retire on June 30.

Mt. San Antonio College is a community college in Walnut, California. It's the largest single-campus community college district in California.

Garcia was hired as COD's president/superintendent in July 2021. She joined the school during a rocky time as the school was in the middle of controversies over delays to its Palm Springs campus and Roadrunner Motors projects. The school has since moved forward with Roadrunner Motors, keeping in Cathedral City, but the Palm Springs campus continues to be delayed.

A few months into her tenure, she spoke about those issues in a one-on-one with News Channel 3's Jeff Stahl.

“As I continue to learn every day in this role. We obviously were not closed to being ready,” Garcia told Stahl in Dec. 2021. 

Garcia previously served as superintendent/president of Imperial Valley College. She's been employed in a California community college since 1999 and has held several positions under student and academic services.  

She earned a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University, a Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling from National University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from San Diego State University, and an Associate Degree from Imperial Valley College.

Telemundo 15's Marco Revuelta highlighted Garcia's upbringing, including her upbringing as a child of local farmworkers, during Hispanic Heritage Month in September 2021.

Stay with News Channel 3 for any updates.

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Jesus Reyes


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